The Coming Matriarchy in the U.S.

I received a great comment/question  about my post “Why Can’t a Man Graduate More Like a Women” asking about the potential impact of Title IX on the rise in the percentage of female college graduates relative to male college graduates.  I didn’t have a good answer or much empirical evidence then but as is my custom I responded as if I did.

Title IX is most often identified with efforts to equalize opportunities to participate in intercollegiate sports for women but its real purpose was to prevent discrimination in education based on sex.  Title IX is a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972 and is also known as the Equal Opportunity in Education Act, it said:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance…

Rules for its implementation were finalized in 1975 and since it was implemented the number of young women attending college on a full or part-time basis has increased by 138% compared to 47% for young men.

Male Female Enrollment Growth

Since the percentage of young women and young men hasn’t changed much since 1975, the differential growth rate is attributable to increasing enrollment rates for women.   I can’t say  how much of this is attributable to Title IX, a lot of things began to change for young women in the 1970s and female enrollments jumped between 1970 and 1975 as well (see chart below).

Male_Female Pct of Enrollment

Women now comprise about 57 percent of all undergraduate students in this country.  The growth trend seems to have stabilized somewhat in recent years – recessions tend to limit employment opportunities for young men more than for young women and this can prompt greater college enrollment among young men.

Male_female Unemployment Rates

A lot of progress has been made by women in this country since 1975 but it is hard not to see the association between the growth in female college enrollment and implementation of Title IX.  I am sure some readers will note Title IX’s shortcomings and more may object on principle to anything that seeks to equalize opportunities among our citizens.  But ideology often causes temporary or permanent blindness.  I’ve noted my interest in gender issues as the father of daughters and I blog frequently about gender and economics (select  the “gender” category to see some) but the issue has profound implications for the future of this country;  economic, political, as well as social.  Women are increasingly contributing to the quality of  “human capital” in this country.  There are now more women working in New Hampshire than men.  It is a great development that would be even greater absent the disturbing trends among young men.

From a political perspective (isn’t everything political these days?) the feminization of the workforce as I have called it (not pejoratively) along with the relationship between educational attainment (college graduates) and voting for Democratic candidates should prompt leaders of the Republican Party in this country to consider their relatively lack of appeal to women, especially younger women because as I see it, and as my daughters no doubt hope, it won’t be long before women will rule this country.

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Explore posts in the same categories: college, Demographics, Educational Attainment, Gender

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3 Comments on “The Coming Matriarchy in the U.S.”

  1. Dennis Delay Says:

    Here is an interesting “Freakonomics” effect from Title IX. Female college sports teams are predominately coached by male coaches.

    One of my students at New England College did a paper on that subject, and I thought it was so compelling that I sent it to Steve Leavitt. It could be because not enough women athletes have ‘risen through the ranks’ to become coaches – so in the short term demand for female coaches outstripped supply.

    You will find that issue discussed in the second Freakonomics book.


    • Nice to hear from you Professor Delay! And nice to hear that there is compelling research coming from some of your undergrads – if you can share it I would love to see it. I think it is equally and maybe more important for young women to be coached by women when they are girls, but in my experience coaching my daughters in different sports over many years – especially in quite competitive youth sports levels (AAU basketball) there was a dearth of female coaches but with increasing female participation in athletics I think it is just a matter of time before the “feeder system” starts to produce more women coaches – if they aren’t impeded by the high percentage of male athletic directors.


  2. […] As more women populate higher levels of occupations and organizations (it will happen as I suggest here and here and in several other posts), it is likely that whatever unexplained gender-based […]


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